Wuling Hongguang Mini
European automakers are scrambling to catch up to Chinese electric vehicle (EV) makers eager to take advantage of European emissions laws to make inroads into the local market, demanding subsidies and supporting a crackdown on imports. But it turns out that in addition to carmakers themselves, raw materials suppliers are also being impacted.European aluminum giant Norsk Hydro has sounded the alarm about European electric carmakers’ apparent inability to compete with Chinese counterparts, saying the problem has had knock-on effects.“The fear when it comes to [EVs] is imports into Europe and the impact on European car manufacturers. There is quite a steep curve right now,” company CEO Hilde Merete Aasheim told British business media. “That is a threat that we are following: if European automakers start reducing their demand [for aluminum] because they are outcompeted,” she stressed.For Norsk Hydro, the stakes could not be higher – with each Chinese EV purchased in Europe instead of a domestic brand meaning 283 kg in lost aluminum sales, judging by estimates by industry trade body European Aluminum.
The durable, lightweight metal is used in a variety of EV parts, from battery enclosure assembles to motor housings, and other components. Their use allows manufacturers to reduce vehicles’ weight, compensating the heft of their onboard batteries, and allowing for less juice to be used to propel the vehicles forward.
European regulators moved to launch an anti-subsidy probe against Chinese electric vehicles last month amid their rapid advance to domination of the region’s EV market, accusing China of outsized subsidies of production and the “flooding” the European and global markets. At the same time, European producers have called for subsidies of their own, citing their inability to compete against the Asian giant’s economies of scale and well-developed production chain.EconomyWhy is EU Revving Up Battle Against China’s EV Supremacy?18 September, 13:23 GMT“We don’t want to see Chinese electric vehicles benefiting from our climate policies,” European lawmaker Manfred Weber said last month, referencing the bloc’s push toward ‘green technologies’. “We have to activate our trade defense instruments to avoid another solar panel attack,” he added, referring to China’s competitive advantage against Europe on the solar panel front.Tagla Group CEO Mark Thompson complained recently that European EV makers are “not seeing the speed and support necessary” in terms of subsidies. “The problem is there’s funding for the battery factors, but not for what makes the batteries in the factory. So they’ve gone downstream and funded that, with nothing to feed those plants expect imported materials from China.”EconomyEV Demand Boom Faces Hurdle as China Tightens Grip on Graphite Supply21 October, 16:23 GMTOthers have taken an ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach, with global automotive giant Stellantis, whose European brands include Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, Lancia, Citroen, Maserati, Opel and Vauxhall, recently announcing plans to invest €1.5 billion for a 20 percent stake in Chinese EV maker Leapmotor. Volkswagen has moved in the same direction, buying a five percent stake in Chinese EV giant Xpeng to start “strategic technical collaboration.”China exported some $13.1 billion worth of EVs to Europe between January and July of 2023 – quickly approaching the $15.4 billion exported through the whole of 2022, with deliveries including both Chinese brands and China-made Western brand vehicles like Tesla.The Chinese EV onslaught and flagging local demand for aluminum is the latest bit of bad news for Norsk Hydro. Last year, the European Union’s shortsighted decision to dramatically reduce purchases of cheap, plentiful Russian energy forced the company to close its Slovalco aluminum smelter in Slovakia.EconomyEuropean Carmakers Struggle to Catch Up with China’s Lead on Electric Vehicles4 September, 16:50 GMTMoscow warned as far back as the spring of 2022 that decoupling the European economy from Russian energy resources would threaten the region with deindustrialization and loss of competitiveness against China and the United States.“One gets the impression that our Western colleagues, politicians and economists have simply forgotten the foundations of the elementary laws of economics, or, to their detriment, prefer to deliberately ignore them,” President Putin said at the time.Along with the economic challenge from China in the East, Europe has faced threats from its American allies in the West, particularly after the Biden administration offered billions in tax incentives for European companies to set up shop in America, where energy remains cheaper. The move has prompted dozens of European companies, including industrial giants BMW, Bosch, Siemens and Volkswagen to begin moving production to the US.WorldHouston, We Have Un Probleme: Europeans Ground Own Space Program by Quitting Cooperation With Russia28 October, 16:40 GMT